Posted by: colpet

Obsidian - 01/08/03 05:18 PM

This is an older game that occasionaly pops up in the Games discussion forum. It is on a few people's top ten list and now I know why. It has a good story line about nanotechnology and some of the most innovative puzzles I've come across.
I played it with Win 98 (640 X 480 and 16 bit color ) and I had a few crashes until I turned down the graphic acceleration to 25%. Then it ran quite smoothly. I have an NVidia Ge Force 32MB card. The game is on 5 CDs and there is a bit of swapping, but it will start up off of any of the 5 CDs.
The game is in first person perspective, with slide-show graphics interspersed with video clips.
You play Lilah, who is one-half of a team responsible for creating an orbiting 'programmable molecular assembler' called Ceres. This machine has the capabilities of manufacturing molecules using nanotechnology, a science based on cellular-sized robots. The intention was to have it repair the earth's damaged ozone and atmosphere layers, which it does, but other changes have occurred. The second half of the team is Max. While Max and Lilah are on vacation together, a strange rock formation appears, nicknamed Obsidian. While investigating it, Max disappears and it's up to you to find him.
Gameplay is easy, it's point and click. You can have unlimited saved games, and there is no threat of dying. Very few of the puzzles are inventory based, so there is not much to carry around.
Before I started this game, I had read other reviews and comments, most of which had one thing in common - this game has innovative puzzles. They are different, but not illogical. They reminded me of the types of puzzle games where finding out what you are supposed to do is as much fun as solving the darn thing. The game helps you out with many hints, and is somewhat linear as new opportunities open up once other tasks are done. I never came to a dead end (you know that 'wandering around, did I miss something' type feeling). Mostly it was 'find one puzzle, solve it and on to the next'. That's not to say that they weren't a challenge. I visited the UHS hints a few times, but tried to only get help with the rules of the puzzle, not the solve itself.
The game takes you through 4 different 'worlds' and the first place you visit is IMHO the most fun. It turns your perception topsy-turvy (literally) and had me chuckling as well, with an excellent rendition of bureaucratic red tape.
The next place you go to has surreal vistas, with chunks of land in the air and a visit to a nanobot chemical factory. Then you are off again, this time using a flying machine to move about, playing a life-sized board game of hide and seek and programming a robotic spider through a series of moves. Finally, you find Max, and solving the last few puzzles, you free him. At this point you choose between 2 different endings, I recommend you try both.
I thoroughly enjoyed this game, and it has made it to my top ten, too.
Posted by: Scout

Re: Obsidian - 01/08/03 08:50 PM

Obsidian is in my top 3, right after TLJ and GK3. I liked not having to deal with an inventory and though the puzzles were tough, they were fair except for the library puzzle Gatorlaw mentioned. That one is crucifyingly hard. But the gameplay is so fun. It's just a delight to play. Thanks for the review of one of my favorite games.

Posted by: MacDee

Re: Obsidian - 01/08/03 09:46 PM

Loved Obsidian! It's in my top 10. Walking on the walls, the tree puzzle and the wave puzzle were my favorite things.

Good review! wave

Posted by: Advpuzlov

Re: Obsidian - 01/09/03 01:47 AM

MACDEE, you liked the WAVE PUZZLE? I seem to recall that you didn't care much for the OBSIDIAN CHAPEL PUZZLE. What is interesting is the the CHAPEL puzzle was probably my favorite and the WAVE puzzle was the one that had me tearing my hair. I just couldn't seem to get the waves synchronized. I seem to recall that the puzzle after that, the one on the pillar, was a scratchy one as well, but it has been some time now, so I'm not sure about it. Different strokes for different folks, as they say. laugh laugh laugh
Posted by: Betje

Re: Obsidian - 01/09/03 07:22 AM

Obsidian is in my top 3 too. I love the Bureau, don't know what you mean by "library sequence" though. The puzzle with the Black Cards?
If you're feeling frustrated by the Bureau, you can take it out on the computer: play Guess the Animal and disobey the computer. Be a Rebel, that's what's it all about, isn't it. smile

(I'm not giving anything important away, it's just a funny Easter Egg.)

Posted by: colpet

Re: Obsidian - 01/09/03 11:23 AM

Nice to hear some will give this game another chance. Everyone has different puzzles that frustrate them. I did the wave puzzle in half an hour, but I couldn't get my mind around the chemical factory puzzle. The tentacle tree was daunting at first, but persistence paid off. The 'Bureau' , as Scout said, was difficult but fair. Like Betje, I played 'Guess the animal' with the computer just for fun. I found the UHS hints helpful enough that a WT wasn't necessary.
But just in case, Gatorlaw, I've no plans on going anywhere and I've got all my saved games too. wink
Posted by: Melanie1

Re: Obsidian - 01/23/04 11:47 PM

Does Obsidian work on Win XP?

So many of you liked it, that I would like to play it also.

Posted by: colpet

Re: Obsidian - 01/24/04 08:28 AM

Melanie, I think Inferno has a way to set up Obsidian for XP. Here is her site:
Posted by: LadyKestrel

Re: Obsidian - 01/25/04 12:32 PM

"One man's ceiling is another man's floor." -Paul Simon

That's a great line for the game, don't you think? smile

I had a terrific time with Obsidian, too. You're absolutely right, Colpet, that figuring out the logic of the puzzles was half the battle. That sneaky little tornado gave me a run for my money, and the Church of the Machine puzzle took me forever. The hardest for me, however, was the switch puzzle near the end. I have monocular vision due to a lazy eye and had a hard time following the movements. If you haven't played this yet, don't forget to save right after this puzzle so you can view both endings without having to redo the it. eek

Lady K.
Posted by: Aussiemystic

Re: Obsidian - 07/26/04 07:18 PM

I've just finished playing this game and I'd recommend it. Despite it now being eight years old, most of its elements hold up very well.

I echo everything said above about the game being different and innovative. The worlds you travel though are extremely surreal and dreamlike, for reasons that you discover part way through the game. The story doesn't make an awful lot of sense, but that doesn't really matter. And thank goodness it was made before the Matrix movie, or it might be accused of being a partial Matrix ripoff.

One thing I really liked about the game was its sense of humour. Humour is usually badly done in games and seems a bit forced so it was good to see it used liberally and with success here. One of the key themes recurring through the game is irreverence for authority, bucking the system and doing your own thing, also which drives much of the humour - the first part of the game takes place in a large bureaucratic office scattered over the faces of a cube which you have to navigate your way around, solving various puzzles and dealing with the robotic administrators. It has you literally climbing the walls in frustration.

Most of the puzzles are thoughtful and can be solved with application of reasoning and logic rather than needing any sudden dramatic insights (although there are a couple of exceptions). Since the worlds are so surreal, the puzzles don't really seem contrived. You are usually playing with new elements and objects rather than having to do ridiculous things with everyday objects. At their root, many of the puzzles are in fact just versions of things you have seen before, but are usually presented in a thoughtful way which gives them a fresh life. There are quite a few sequencing puzzles, including one (the Church of the Machine) which is extremely difficult, although logical. There is also no need to go searching extensively for little snippets of information hidden amongst vast tracts of writing: I didn't need to take many notes at all during the game. There is also an extremely limited use of inventory - you only have one item in it at a time and it is usually used very soon after you receive it. A nice feature is that at the end of the game, you, like your character, has to make a momentous decision with only a few seconds remaining, and what you do will determine the ending. Make sure you save regularly and play both endings!

On the down side, there is at least one puzzle requiring co-ordination which many will find frustrating as even when you work out what you need to do, it's hard to do it at exactly the right time. There are also a couple of puzzles where you need to adjust pieces to form a pattern, but the moment you turn away all your work is lost - you don't want to accidentally bump the mouse. The final puzzle is very difficult as it involves you having to look at sixteen different things at once and observing a fast (about 1.5 second) random transition of all objects. I fluked it thorough this one with a bit of a lucky guess.

Also on the downside is the music. Although done by noted electronic artist Thomas Dolby, it sounds very twee and doesn't impress. The game takes up 5 CDs and there is no 'full install' option, and since unfortunately some areas of the game are spread across a couple of CDs there is sometimes some swapping involved as you wander around. The interface involves using the cursor to move through a series of static screens but with movies depicting your movement. This is sometimes awkward as in some places moving in a direction doesn't always put you where you thought you were going. There are a few cutscenes which are well integrated into the game.

Despite the age of the game, I was able to run it on WinXP with no glitches whatsoever without having to tweak anything.

Apparently, Obsidian was not a commercial success and the developers, Rocket Science, have disbanded. This is a great shame because the adventure game world needs more games with this level of creativity mixed with a lighter touch to overcome the po-faced nature of many other games. It seems that Obsidian is now recognised as a classic of the genre. What a shame this couldn't save the developers.

Edit to add score: 4.25 out of 5.
Posted by: Becky

Re: Obsidian - 07/29/04 04:37 PM

Aussie -- what a terrific review! Together with colpet's review this has become the Everything you Wanted to Know about Obsidian thread!

I think the Bureau was the most surprising puzzle sequence I've enountered in a game. I loved the game because it was so different (I especially liked the bad ending).

I think the game was, to a certain extent, ahead of its time. When I first played it, I would check the Obsidian/Rocket Science site from time to time. I was very sad when it went down. Like you, I felt a very good game hadn't received the appropriate recognition.

A fellow gamer recently acquired the Official Obsidian Strategy Guide. It gives some background on how they created the puzzles. Interesting stuff.
Posted by: Rckasea

Re: Obsidian - 07/30/04 10:38 AM

Great review. <img border="0" alt="bravo" title="" src="graemlins/bravo.gif " />
I got the Official Obsidian Strategy Guide with the game. The background stuff is super !
The word game in the Library was just so neat, that I played with that for hours. A game within a game. I also liked that they had one of the most difficult of the puzzles, at the end of game.
This game is a top ten. smile